OK... Own up... Who sells flavored beans?

Davec

New member
Oct 18, 2006
314
0
Old England (UK)
Anne,

I wasn't going to post, but again felt compelled to after reading some of the views.

You are running a business, your job is to meet the needs and want of your customers. Doing this well, will mean you stay in business and make a profit. It's not really about what YOU want, but about your customers....never forget that.

If there is a market for flavoured coffee, and I suspect there is, then sell it. However, just try to give them a decent quality flavoured product. This means only using flavours that are "natural" or "nature identical". Treat the flavoured coffee with the same respect as the non flavoured and there is no reason why you can't have a "quality" flavoured coffee.

The best coffees to use for flavouring are probably:

Brazilian (try and use a reasonable quality Brazilian)
Colombian (supremo)
Panama Boquete SHG

However, you might also want to try using coffees that complement the flavourings your using, the post from JohnP might be valuable in this. I always think it's a bit sad to always see Santos screen 17 as the flavoured coffee.

Oh and don't forget you need an electric cement mixer with a plastic drum for mixing the flavours in after roasting :-D

Best of luck
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
1
Salt Lake City
Explain how flavoring elevates the coffee?

Would you pull any coffee off the shelves older than ten days out of the roaster?
Would you roast date all of your coffee?
Would you encourage whole bean or only do whole bean sales?
Would you serve award winning and/or CoE coffees on a regular basis?
Do you cup all of your coffees for varietal flavor and quality?
Would you buy based on varietal flavor and quality regardless of cost?

If the answer to all of these is yes, then why sell flavored beans?
If the answer to any of them is no, then it's not about the coffee.

All around good guy, and coffee colleague Andy Newbom of Barefoot coffee says it very eloquently on another forum when engaging in a conversation that Nick Cho started about having a class about being a "coffee mecca".
this is his post in its entirety,
Andy wrote
golly gee willikers. Very interesting divergent opinons.

it seems the summary of the two camps are this:

1) we can't focus on coffee quality as our number one because our customers would NOT buy from us anymore. (this implies all sorts of intriguing things!)And besides everyone knows that only the cool people in the cool places can focus on coffee quality, the rest of us have to serve mediocrity to good to "give our customers what they want"
2) We already focus on coffee quality first and it is working very well for us but it sure is hard to do and requires a huge committment. Sometimes we are a bit snobby but we are always improving. We are not soleyl focused on giving customers "what they want" but on giving them what they are paying us money for: the best damn drink possible.

Nick: I think that this reaction so far is a HUGE indicator of some direction for your topic.

We are a tad obsessive about coffee quality. We give the customers what WE want NOT what they want. They come to us becasue we are coffee freaks and IF they want the best coffee taste possible then they exchange their money for that expertise and drink. Very simple business 101. How can you "give customers what they want" if they are not sure exactly what they want?

I completely understand the issues around saying NO to customers, taking a stand on quality, throwing old stuff away rather than serving it, making espresso taste great and tending away form syrups. We made that decision when we bought our place. We drove away almost every customer we had over the first 3-6 months. But then an interesting thing happened. All the whining, I want it my way "customers" left. And real customers started coming. We grow 5-10% every single month with no advertising and a terrible location in the middle of industrial nowhere in a affluent but highly disinterested market of tech geeks and temporary workers.

I do not have delusions that we are a coffee mecca but gosh darn it we are trying to do right by the coffee and give our custoemrs the best darned coffee we know how to make every day. They certainly like it better.

So Nick I think that you should have some talk about the belief that the customer is always right and that they always know exactly what they want and can explain it in the right words. Are we in business to "give them what they want" or to give them what they pay us for?

We should all do what we can to elevate both the profession, the industry, and the coffee by educating the consumer through the cup. Selling flavored coffee not only perpetuates the sad level of coffee quality, it fails to educate the consumer, and it fails to elevate the coffee. Don't meet expectations, exceed them.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
1
Salt Lake City
If you have quality coffee... it doesn't need flavoring.

Why in the world would you flavor a good Kenyan? Unless...
I'm serving a Kenyan AA Muranga Kariani right now... very good blackberry note throughout the entire cup, I served a Ugandan Bugisu from Mt. Elgon earlier in the month, intense and deep fruited notes at the beginning of the cup and spice and rustic chocolate notes deep in the cup. Why would I want to alter that?

There are certainly many ways to run a business, but selling a product just because "the customer wants it" is a clear indication that for some business models, the coffee takes a back seat, and that's ok for some, but my hope is that less and less owners will proceed down that path, and more will see that, in the long run, both them, the customer, the industry, and the farmer would be far better served by elevating the quality of the coffee, seeking to improve quality control from the source, working with growers, importers, etc. at funding sustainable, high quality coffees, supporting "Best of" and "CoE" programs, and so much more.

The good thing is that customers ARE becoming more educated, they are moving away from the Starbucks type drinks, the blended, over-syrupy drinks, and gravitating toward better and better coffee and espresso. One cup at a time, one cup at a time.
 

CCafe

Active member
Aug 11, 2004
1,556
2
Des Moines, Iowa
Henry Ford was quoted to have said "Customers can have it in any color they want as long as it is black!"

With that idea he sold all model T's from 1915-1927 in black only. The reasoning behind it was an engineer found that the black enamel paint at the time dried faster then any other color.

So to help increase the production of vehicles, they all came in black.

Does that make it right to treat the customer that way, no! Did it increase production and his pocket book, yep!

So just because your a coffee expert and you have put all your time, devotion, and all out love in to the coffee, does it make it right to tell customers that you won't flavor any coffee for them because your personally think its wrong.

There was once a man who gave it all. No person was to big or too small and he refused none who sought him. I try to remind myself that before I try tell someone no it can't be done.

I respect your opinion on flavored coffee, but that doesn't mean I agree with it.
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
1
Hartford and New Haven, CT
Anne, I agree with John. A well run shop can do very well without serving flavored coffee. If the only reason you are thinking about it is "a gal has to pay her rent" you are assuming flavored coffee will increase your business. But what about those "serious" coffee drinkers who don't care for the amalgamated smell of those flavored agents and prefer unflavored shops? You might lose some of those.
 

CCafe

Active member
Aug 11, 2004
1,556
2
Des Moines, Iowa
I should say in our shop we flavor only on request. The flavoring center is located in the basement on the opposite side of the roaster and coffee counter. All flavor generated trash is stored in an airtight container before being disposed of.

This way our shop doesn't smell like the flavored isle at the grocery store. This also helps to keep cross contamination from occurring.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
1
Salt Lake City
ElPlugDiablo...
a voice of reason. 8)

To me it's about being proud of the expertise that customers come here for. We opened to raise the level of the local coffee culture, to be uncompromising fanatics when it comes to our coffee and espresso, and to be known for contributing meaningful change to the industry. Selling X because "a customer wants it" or because it will "be a big seller" will only get you money. It's easy to dazzle people with money, it's harder to inspire them with your principles. (seriously.) :)
 

Phule

New member
Sep 4, 2007
1
0
New Orleans
Ignorance is not bliss

Anne,

The first mistake you keep making is the assumption of exactly what is used to flavor coffee. Your use of the word \"Chemicals\" has a sour contextual use surrounding it, as if you cannot even bear to type it in your posts.

If you choose to, you can use completely organic flavoring oils to flavor coffee. Try http://www.naturesflavors.com just to peek at some choices.

Do you know the components that go into Monin Syrup or Artista Syrups? Do you use them, or frown on Italian sodas? Are you purely organic in everything that you put into your own body, being carefully aware of any and all other flavoring \"chemicals\" that you might be in the things you personally eat and drink?

And I also have an issue with the phrase \"Spraying Chemicals\" as if everyone who is offering flavored coffee, is putting it on some production line conveyer belt, passing it beneath industrial sprayers that have biohazard stickers on them, and employees who must wear filtration devices that keep them alive while working around the equipment. Is this what you imagine goes into making all flavored coffees?

Context is everything. Coffee, is just flavored water. Tea drinks, are just flavored water. If you don''t think water has flavor, then your taste buds just aren''t attuned to it.

There are people who are just as passionate about roasts, as some here are NOT about flavoring beans. There are some who believe that having coffee as anything other than espresso is against God and Nature.

Here is what it takes to flavor beans. Take a metal or glass container. Add a pound of roasted beans. Add about 5 grams (this will vary depending on flavors) of the flavoring oil that you choose. Agitate or toss the beans in the container, or just stir well for a while. Let it sit. The longer you let it sit up to a day, the deeper the flavor will seep into the bean. Then, grind, pass hot water through, and enjoy. If you want to use all natural flavors, then do so. If you want to use organic flavors, then do so.

Flavoring coffee is no different than (as I have said) flavoring milk, or flavoring a cake (vanilla, anyone?) or flavoring a salad (dressing), or flavoring a stir fry (Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce), or flavoring water (coffee, tea, fruit). Well, it might be different in the procedure, but it is no different in concept.

If there was only one way to enjoy coffee, you would not have a menu at your shop.
 
We don't offer flavoured coffee- we have enough single origins to keep us busy. In our cafes we also keep away from flavoured/flavourings. Most of our local competitors do offer a range of flavoured EBD's. We just chose not to follow suite. In NZ, where I am from, its very rare for quality roaster/roaster cafes to offer flavorings. There the Indie's generally leave it to the big chains- while they focus more on a traditional, perhaps more European approach to drinks.
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
1
Hartford and New Haven, CT
Re: Ignorance is not bliss

Phule said:
Anne,

The first mistake you keep making is the assumption of exactly what is used to flavor coffee. Your use of the word "Chemicals" has a sour contextual use surrounding it, as if you cannot even bear to type it in your posts.

If you choose to, you can use completely organic flavoring oils to flavor coffee. Try http://www.naturesflavors.com just to peek at some choices.

Do you know the components that go into Monin Syrup or Artista Syrups? Do you use them, or frown on Italian sodas? Are you purely organic in everything that you put into your own body, being carefully aware of any and all other flavoring "chemicals" that you might be in the things you personally eat and drink?

And I also have an issue with the phrase "Spraying Chemicals" as if everyone who is offering flavored coffee, is putting it on some production line conveyer belt, passing it beneath industrial sprayers that have biohazard stickers on them, and employees who must wear filtration devices that keep them alive while working around the equipment. Is this what you imagine goes into making all flavored coffees?

Context is everything. Coffee, is just flavored water. Tea drinks, are just flavored water. If you don''t think water has flavor, then your taste buds just aren''t attuned to it.

There are people who are just as passionate about roasts, as some here are NOT about flavoring beans. There are some who believe that having coffee as anything other than espresso is against God and Nature.

Here is what it takes to flavor beans. Take a metal or glass container. Add a pound of roasted beans. Add about 5 grams (this will vary depending on flavors) of the flavoring oil that you choose. Agitate or toss the beans in the container, or just stir well for a while. Let it sit. The longer you let it sit up to a day, the deeper the flavor will seep into the bean. Then, grind, pass hot water through, and enjoy. If you want to use all natural flavors, then do so. If you want to use organic flavors, then do so.

Flavoring coffee is no different than (as I have said) flavoring milk, or flavoring a cake (vanilla, anyone?) or flavoring a salad (dressing), or flavoring a stir fry (Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce), or flavoring water (coffee, tea, fruit). Well, it might be different in the procedure, but it is no different in concept.

If there was only one way to enjoy coffee, you would not have a menu at your shop.
I am not against flavored beans. I am against flavored beans in a coffeehouse environment. It doesn't matter if the flavoring agents are natural or chemical, the entire shop will smell like a mis-matched of different [artificial] flavors. Coffeehouse should smell like coffee, not cinnamon southern Irish pecan hazelnut cream. Not to mention the need of maintaining two different sets of grinders and brewers. Plus, if someone truly want to add flavor to their coffee, I will be happy charge them 50 cents extra for a shot of syrup.
 
OP
A

AJPRATT

New member
Mar 7, 2007
382
0
Atlantic City, NJ
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #27
WOW! Holy crap! I really opened Pandora's box on this one. I have to say that I am really thrilled to see all of the different opinions on this. THANK YOU ALL!! Since my initial post, I have decided not to offer flavored beans. I will start out and then see if there is a demand for it. And then consider my options. I have also decided, at the suggestion to of a friend to not roast right away, but to get the cafe going and then roast. The roaster I am likely to use doesn't offer syrups in his cafe, much less flavor his beans, so that answers that questions. (JohnP, a guy after your own heart!)

And, Phule, actually, you make a great point(s). FWIW, we are pretty much organic/whole food in our home. I have not had fast food, soda, chemicals in over a year. We don't eat anything processed, bagged, or anything that comes out of a can. I would say the only thing I consume that comes in a package is Stevia. We got serious about this in April and since then I have dropped 30 pounds. Admitedly, I'm still pretty tubby, but I do see the difference in myself after I removed the additives I used to consume. So, its something I weigh heavily. So, I come to you guys, my "coffee friends" for your brutally honest inout. And, Monin has an Organic syrup, which I still haven't gotten that far. I'm still trying to close on my friggan loan, so I can't really see much past that.

ElPug: Gotta love a guy who uses "amalgamated"! There is a coffee business a few towns over where the smell is putrid from the 100's of flavors on display. God knows how old they even are, or how long they've been sitting.

I think its wonderful that you have all stepped up and offered your opinions and have been respectful. The bean is a topic we're aleady very passionate about, and to be able to have a place like this to discuss this intelligently is priceless. I'll have to read through more of the posts when I get a chance... As my husband says, I've been busy building a coffee empire. Bwahahaha
 

AlisonD

New member
Sep 18, 2007
35
0
USA
...if we only sold the coffees that we ourselves drank, most of our product lists would be pretty small.
 

davidwhatley

New member
Oct 9, 2007
19
0
DFW
Newbie

I have been reading the forums for a couple of weeks now, but this post forced me to reply.
First an introduction, David here, and I hope to have multiply stores open in the next 6 months here in the DFW area. I am 54 and have owned several business, one I sold after 20 years, and the company is still in operation today, 33 years after I founded it in 1974.

No matte rhow passionate you are about you___________, fill in the blank, if you choose to not carry what a customer wants, you leave money on the table. Can you be selective and make money, sure you can.
Can you offer a good product, offer the customer a selection, and make \"more\" money, sure you can.

I am going in the coffe business, and I will be suscessful. Why, because, I will give the customer what he/she wants, and it doesnt matter if I like coffe or not, as long as the customer likes the coffee I serve. Same way with an ice cream store or any other business.
There is always a place for the purest, but why limit your customer base and earning potential? If you want to only serve a certain roast, and only one blend, that is up to you, but I plan on being in business, and make money doing it. The more custoemrs I have, and make happy, the more money I make. If that makes me a coffe whore, so be it.

David
 

Carmine Domenaco

New member
Oct 10, 2007
31
0
I worked at a place that sold pound after pound of flavored coffee. The smell made me sick but the boss sold three times as much flavored as regular.

Now I roast and don't flavor. My choice, my reasons. I used to rail on flavored coffees but it doesn't matter, somone will gladly fill that niche of the market. Good for them!

The only issue I have with roasters who flavor coffee is: make darn sure you don't contaminate your unflavored coffees. I've cupped a few too many coffees that were stored in proximity or processed on the same equipment as flavored coffees. If you can avoid this, it is up to you if flavoring is right for your outfit.

I don't want the market share nor do I have the space to do it right.
 
Top